Perceptions of a Student Led Pro-Bono Education and Treatment Based Back School for Uninsured Nevadans
Purpose: The purpose of this project is to evaluate the perceived benefit of uninsured participants, students, and faculty of an evidence based, student-implemented back school. Description: This study used a mixed methods approach. Literature Review: Disadvantaged populations with insufficient or no insurance coverage are at a higher risk for low back pain. Physical therapy interventions have proven to be effective in the reduction of LBP. Back schools are an option to address low back pain in a group setting, but have shown varying levels of effectiveness. To date, there have been no studies examining the combination of individualized exercises with patient education in a back school. Back School Program: This back school was a cooperative effort between Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada and the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) to help uninsured people with low back pain. 8 DPT students created an evidence-based curriculum to be delivered over 2 days of 2-hour classes, 1 week apart. The back school featured individualized abbreviated evaluations, individualized exercise plans, and group educational presentations on topics such as ergonomics, pain management strategies, and pain neuroscience. Participant feedback on the back school was collected through surveys administered at the end of the 2nd class of each session. These surveys included Likert-scale and open-ended questions which were examined through descriptive statistics and theming respectively. Student and faculty perceptions were collected after completing 4 sessions of the back school. Summary of Use: 26 participants completed both classes of a session with 23 filling out quality assurance surveys. All participants agreed that they could participate in more functional activities, felt educated on their specific back problem, and felt their home exercises were appropriate. Open response questions suggested increasing the classroom size and adding more days of programming. All students agreed that the program improved their ability to communicate with patients and healthcare providers, and increased empathy for uninsured patients. All students additionally felt that this program was feasible to participate in and that other schools would be able to develop a similar program. Faculty advisors for this program found this program beneficial personally and for UNLVPT, and believe it would be feasible for another PT program to implement a similar back school. Importance to Members: Overall, the perceptions of the back school were positive and reinforced the idea that the implementation of a student led, pro-bono back school can be beneficial for participants, students, and faculty advisors alike. This back school program and the survey findings may not be generalizable to other programs due to regional differences and startup costs, however, other programs may utilize these findings and program design to better ensure quality for similar service learning and pro-bono programs.